Discover the Hidden Gem: Lomaloma Resort Opening

On August 22, 1994, a resort owned by the President and the late Tui Nayau Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara commenced operations on Vanuabalavu in Fiji. The following day, The Fiji Times reported that Tourism Minister Harold Powell highlighted the Lomaloma Resort’s unique potential to offer tourists a glimpse into a remote and enigmatic part of Fiji.

In his official address at the resort’s opening, Minister Powell underscored the historical significance of the northeastern Lau Group, where Vanuabalavu is situated. This area played a pivotal role in Fiji’s early colonial era and was a bustling port in the 1800s, rivalling Levuka, the then capital of Fiji. It was also the power base of Tongan warlord Ma‘afu, who had established Lau as his domain.

Minister Powell emphasized that from a tourism standpoint, Vanuabalavu represents a compelling addition to Fiji’s internal destinations, aiding in the ongoing effort to diversify and expand tourist attractions. He noted that tourism has been the fastest-growing industry in Fiji, showing a 23.4 percent growth between 1990 and 1993, and contributing 24 percent to Fiji’s GDP. As the largest foreign exchange earner, tourism generated over $363 million in earnings last year and provides employment for about 40,000 people, constituting about 16 percent of the total labor force. Indigenous landowners benefit significantly, with annual earnings of approximately $1.4 million through tourism leases.

To support the industry’s growth, the government has initiated an eco-tourism unit within the ministry focused on developing, facilitating, and promoting rural tourism destinations that offer natural, adventure, and cultural attractions. In recent months, efforts have included studying proposals to expand rural and interior tourism by creating national parks and historic sites.

The Lomaloma Resort, managed by Lynette Mercer, formerly of Namale Plantation in Savusavu, features six Tongan-styled fales (huts) set in beautiful, pristine surroundings. The resort offers a variety of activities, including sunset cruises, hot water springs, native treks, village tours, nightly entertainment, private beach picnics, snorkeling, fish diving, windsurfing, and row boating.

Minister Powell highlighted the importance of effective market capture for any resort’s success and noted that Lomaloma Resort has partnered with leading Australian airline Ansett for its regional and international marketing efforts. Ansett has two offices in Fiji—in Nadi and Suva—to support this initiative, with Global Air Services and Sun Tours Fiji coordinating the resort’s marketing strategy.

The government is committed to encouraging the continued growth of tourism, viewing it as the industry of the future. The Ministry aims to increase the marketing and promotion budget for the Fiji Visitors Bureau and allocate funds to further develop eco-tourism, with the expectation that tourism’s expansion potential can help absorb the increasing number of young people entering the labor force each year.

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